Make way for the Metro - Kolkota's Hooghly river will have an underwater metre tunnel among its many attractions by 2022. Image Credit: Rex Features

Kolkata (Bloomberg): The Kolkata Metro Rail Corp. expects to complete its East-West project - which runs partly under the city’s iconic Hooghly river - by March 2022 after a delay of several years doubled costs.

The new line is expected to carry about 900,000 people daily, - roughly 20 per cent of the city’s population - and will take less than a minute to cross a 520-meter underwater tunnel. Depending on the time of day, it takes some 20 minutes to use the ferry and anywhere upward of an hour to cross the Howrah bridge.

India’s oldest metro, which started in 1984 with a North-South service, was due to expand by 2014 but faced problems including squatters on the planned route. These issues have contributed to the total project cost rising to about 86 billion rupees for some 17 kilometers from 49 billion rupees for 14 kilometres.

The East-West metro project is 74 per cent owned by India’s Railway Ministry and 26 per cent by the nation’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

The authority is awaiting a final installment of 200 million rupees ($2.8 million) over the next two years from the Indian Railway Board, said Manas Sarkar, managing director at KMRC. A soft loan of 41.6 billion rupees from Japan International Cooperation Agency helps fund 48.5 per cent of the project.

“About 40 per cent of total transport demand will be tackled by these two metro services,” Sarkar said. “It will be a relief for environmental pollution and the city should be much more decongested.”

KMRC will repay the JICA loan over 30 years after an initial six-year moratorium. The interest rate is between 1.2-1.6 per cent.

“We don’t anticipate any further cost escalation now,” Sarkar said.